Sandra Maloney died the night before the final hearing of the divorce petition her husband, John, had filed. She had lost custody of her children and could only see them in a public place, under supervision of a third party. Her boyfriend had broken up with her because of her drinking, and he wouldn't even take her calls. Her days consisted of drinking, smoking cigarettes and, when she could get them, taking prescription medications like clonazepam. Sandy wrote suicide notes and left them around the house. She also left cigarettes to burn on furniture and counter tops, even when an ashtray was adjacent. For some unknown reason -- a real suicide attempt, or a call for help -- Sandy strung up an electrical extension cord like a noose in her basement.
At the same time, 2 miles away, John Maloney, his three sons and Tracy Hellenbrand were moving into a town house that put the boys back in their familiar school district. Matt got a ride to batting practice from his Aunt Ginny, and Tracy arrived home from work late. While she ate, John helped Sean and Aaron put together their bunk beds. When he finished, John and Tracy had a cigarette together. Then John went to pick up Matt, while Tracy tried to get in a nap before she and John ran more moving-related errands.
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to turn Sandy's death into murder and the fire into arson -- and to
convict a cop of both crimes -- the Wisconsin Dept. of Justice criminal
investigators, Kim Skorlinski and Greg Eggum, and then prosecutor Joe
Paulus and his second chair, Vince Biskupic, twisted facts and injected
sex at every turn.
According to them, Tracy was about to leave John -- with whom she had just signed a one-year lease on a rental house -- because his divorce was taking too long. So during the same 30-minute "window of opportunity" when John was building bunk beds, he drove to Sandy's house, forced his way in, argued with her about showing up for the divorce hearing, hit her, strangled her, then took off her shirt and placed it in the clothes hamper in the basement. Then John lit and power smoked a pack of cigarettes, leaving them to burn down all over the house, poured 80-proof vodka on a towel, laid one end on the sofa where Sandy's body was located and set the other end on fire. After all that, he locked the storm door from the outside with a key he disposed of somewhere along the line, and arrived home before anyone missed him.
Tracy became the prosecution's best helper, especially after Joe Paulus told her it was going to be John or her, and he didn't care which one he convicted. She starred in hour after hour after hour of hidden videotaping, in Green Bay, Madison and, finally, Las Vegas. And once John was charged, it was confirmed that the secret tapes were studded with a flow of expletives and slightly off-camera sex acts between the two.
public in general and the jury in particular ate up the scandal-sheet
spin. Jurors watched intently, trying to figure out when they
were doing "it" and what exactly they were doing when they did
"it." Joe Paulus was so persuasive that he convinced jurors that
they saw things that simply were not on the video.
And where was the great defense attorney, Gerald Boyle, during all this? There was more than enough evidence that no crimes had occurred in the first place, but no one heard about that from him. Forensic experts cost too much, and he was "desperate for money" back then, so he didn't hire any. He prosecuted Tracy, And tried to cut a movie deal, but that was actually for himself, for the money. And when John was convicted, Gerald Boyle filed the appeal, thus framing the issues.
What Gerald Boyle didn't let slip by failing to preserve at trial, he waived in the appeal.